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Court upholds US cockfighting ban, rejects challenge in Guam

Posted at 1:08 PM, Dec 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-25 14:08:29-05

HONOLULU (AP) — A U.S. appeals court ruling Wednesday affirmed a ban against cockfighting in U.S. territories.

A panel of 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges ruled against a Guam businessman whose 2019 lawsuit argued the ban was unconstitutional. Sedfrey Linsangan said in his lawsuit that “gamefowl raising and competition” is part of his “culture, custom and tradition.”

In 2018, former President Donald Trump signed a law banning all animal fighting in U.S. territories. The law took effect in 2019. Prior to the law, cockfighting had been illegal in the 50 states but not U.S. territories.

Linsangan appealed after a U.S. judge in Guam denied his motion for a preliminary injunction against the prohibition.

Linsangan didn’t immediately respond to a text message from The Associated Press seeking comment on the latest ruling.

Attorneys representing the United States in the case didn’t immediately respond to an email from the AP.

The ruling said Linsangan failed to show that cockfighting is a fundamental right.

“Linsangan’s evidence of cockfighting as a cultural practice both predating and outside of American history does not show that cockfighting is objectively deeply rooted in our Nation’s tradition,” the ruling said.

The U.S. Supreme Court in October turned away a challenge to the federal law brought by individuals and organizations that argued Congress exceeded its power in applying the ban to Puerto Rico. They noted that “cockfighting is deeply ingrained in the island’s history, tradition and culture.”

The Animal Wellness Action said it hailed the ruling because it came days before Guam cockfighting derbies advertised for New Year’s Day.